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May Tangles

I was just going through this month's photos to pull out the ones I needed for this post, and thought to myself... how on earth did I manage to do so much stuff in one month and still move on top of it all? It's been quite a month! And it's not over yet... I'm starting a new series of classes tomorrow... more to share after I start. It was a last minute decision - I just barely made it into the class! I can't wait, though :)

In the meantime, I have three new tangles that I've done this month. Again, all of them done during church (it helps me pay attention!) and then finished up at home.

May Zentangle 1 - Gwen Lafleur
May Zentangle 1 - Gwen LafleurThis last one is a stendoodle that I did using the very cool Doodle it Dahlia stencil by Maria McGuire at StencilGirl. I just got the other four small doodling stencils, and I can't wait to try those out as well!

May Zentangle 3 - Gwen LafleurAnd now I'm going back to watching hockey and crossing my fingers that the Blackhawks force a game 7 (if I'm going to live in Chicago and my other teams are out of the running, I'm going to be a homer!)

Homemade Gift Wrap

Pre-move, while I was half packed, I went to wrap a gift I was sending to my mom for Mother's Day and realized that all of my wrapping supplies were already in boxes. Oops! However, I still had about half of my craft supplies out including stencils and ink, as well as a roll of kraft paper that I'd kept from something or other. So I pulled out my stencils, my Ranger blending tool, and some ink pads and made my own wrapping paper.

IMG_3090I used the Rose Window and Border, A Rose by Any Other Name, and Circle 9 stencils, all from StencilGirl.

I just added a little tag to the front and stamped sentiments from the Papertrey Ink Women of Life stamp set and a little flower sticker from my embellishment drawer.

IMG_3091It works! I'll probably do this again, even though my I've got all my stuff ready to go again. This was fun, and my mom really liked it!

While I'm at it, I'll also share the birthday card that I made her for her birthday in early May.

IMG_3056I used the Papertrey Ink Rosie Posie stamp set with a variety of inks (Papertrey, Studio Calico, Tim Holtz) and then the sentiment was from Think Big Favorites #12, and the stamps on the inside were from the Tremendous Treats set. The strip of glitter tape on the front is from American Crafts.

IMG_3057When she opened it, my dad thought I had bought the card, so I'll take that as a compliment!

I'm almost done catching up with crafty posts from the last month... a few tangles to share at some point, but now I'm back and puttering in my studio.

Today I went out and did a little exploring in the area near me, found my local Blick (for when I don't want to shop in the Loop and then haul things home on the train) and bought myself an awesome convertible easel as a house warming gift (because I was tired of leaning over to get in close on my work table.) I got it put together and have already started using it and I'm loving it so far!

New easelAnd yes, that is a new finished canvas on my new easel, but no... not going to share it yet! It's a bit of a tease, but I promise I'll share it soon :) I love that this easel can work with smaller canvases like I usually use, but also great big ones if I get ambitious. It also converts to lay flat, and fortunately for me and my small studio, it folds so I can store it out of the way. I have a feeling it will be sitting out a lot, though. Best part? It was a steal... I think I saw the same easel for over $250 at Jerry's and this was like a third the cost (plus I had a coupon!) Score!

And finally, I hope all my American friends had a lovely Memorial Day! Aside from my little shopping trip, I didn't do too much special... although I did cook, and that's a big deal lately! In honor of the unofficial start of summer, I got out my grill plate and made a pretty spectacular burger, if I do say so myself.

I topped it with sharp cheddar, tomato, avocado, candied bacon, and chipotle mayonnaise all on a pretzel roll. I know, you're thinking I'm nuts to put candied bacon on a burger. But I'm telling you... this was a genius idea. It was soooooo good. It added a new level of texture and just a hint of sweetness, so it balanced really well with the chipotle and the sharp cheddar, and the texture was awesome with the burger and avocado. I will definitely be doing that again. And not just because I have leftovers. lol.

And now I'm off to do some more playing before my holiday is over. TTFN!

A mini art journal

When I drove out to Chicago, I brought a few supplies with me in the car so I'd have something to do while I waited for my stuff to come (and when I say a few supplies, it was pretty much the entire back seat. Just the essentials ;) So during my evenings before delivery, I started working my way through the technique exercises in Dina Wakley's book "Art Journal Freedom." I decided to make a little mini art journal like the one we'd done in class and do one of the exercises on each spread. I ended up tweaking a few of them so they'd work with my format, but I had a lot of fun.

So with that, here's my book! I did the cover last... I actually broke out my sewing machine for this. Not only that, but I rearranged things a bit so that it has a spot on the counter and I just need to plug it in and it's ready to use. We'll see if I start using it more! Mostly I'm just impressed when I can thread the bobbin without reading the instructions, so this is a big step for me. lol.

Mini Art Journal Cover - Gwen LafleurThe cover was from the exercise on butcher paper collage and it was pretty fun to do. I still have some more of the collage paper I made so I can use it on something else.

Mini Art Journal page 1 - Gwen LafleurThis one uses lots of Ranger stamps along with Dylusions sprays. It's kind of funny... I use my Dylusions sprays more after taking classes with Dina than I did after taking classes with Dyan! I guess it just took a bit for me to get into using them and see all the possibilities.

Mini Art Journal page 2 - Gwen LafleurI was kind of limited in my available material for making silhouettes, but I think this one ended up working. The paints are Dina Wakley's and the stencil was a bookmark stencil that I got with my copy of StencilGirl by Mary Beth Shaw (you can also get the book at Amazon, but that one doesn't come with the stencil.)

Mini Art Journal page 3 - Gwen LafleurThis one used more of Dina's paints, Liquitex acrylic ink, Dina's stamps from Ranger, a clipping from a pamphlet I picked up in Myanmar, and the stencil is River Rocks from StencilGirl.

Mini Art Journal page 4 - Gwen LafleurThis was a fun page - I ended up using Dylusions instead of reinkers since that's all I had with me, but I think it worked. I used molding paste in the background with the January 2014 StencilGirl Stencil Club 9x12 stencil which I love. The bird is from Dina's bird stamp set. The green squares are inked paper towels. lol. (Another improvisation!)

Mini Art Journal page 5 - Gwen LafleurThis one was gel medium resist and also super fun. The stencil is the StencilGirl Greek Key Stencil and I used Dylusions stamps and one of Dina's older stamps, Dina's paints, and more Liquitex ink - a pearlescent one that I love. I was using a Krink steel tip paint marker for the black circles.

Mini Art Journal page 6 - Gwen LafleurThis page is my favorite... I drew the birds since the stamp set I had didn't have the right position and I was pretty much copying the page composition from the book. I used more of Dina's paints, Dylusions sprays and the StencilGirl Small Union stencil.

Mini Art Journal page 7 - Gwen LafleurAnd my least favorite page. I actually like everything except the stamped image, but whatever... just turn the page, right? This was with a Versamark pad and PanPatels. The background uses molding paste with the StencilGirl Crackle stencil along with the 4x4 stencil from the April 2013 StencilGirl Stencil club set.

Mini Art Journal page 8 - Gwen LafleurLast page... I just did this one yesterday as I was finishing up and I'm pretty pleased with it. The silhouette was cut from a Nieman Marcus ad, paints are Dina Wakley, and the black is Liquitex Professional spray paint in carbon black. It was my first time breaking out the spray paint and it was so much fun! I also used three StencilGirl stencils - Mixed Maltese, Circle 6, and Journal Texture #2

And the back cover...

Mini Art Journal back cover - Gwen LafleurThis was actually just extra ink left on my stencil from the bird pages that I printed onto some random cardstock so I didn't waste it. It turned out so well I decided to use it!

Mini Art Journal both covers - Gwen LafleurThe spine was just sticky back canvas and I sprayed with Dylusions through a Seth Apter stencil. I added a little washi tape and some Liquid Pearls to add just a hint of color, and that was it!

Mini Art Journal overview - Gwen LafleurAll of the inside pages were done on Canson 140lb cold press watercolor paper, and that seemed to work really well. I like the weight of the pages glued together - it gives it a lot of structure.

So that's it! This was a fun project and definitely kept me busy until my stuff showed up.

Welcome home!

So I've had tons of requests to share the setup / decorating in my new condo... I finally got around to taking a few pictures. If you've visited me at all in the last 8 years or so, this will look pretty familiar, just a few updates / additions as I've moved from Virginia to Utah to Connecticut to Chicago (I'm tired just thinking about it!) I had to be a little creative with this place, though... I downsized a lot coming from Connecticut. The real estate agent was telling people the place I just moved out of was 1700 sq. ft. It might not have been quite that big, but this place is 1200 with about 2.5 fewer rooms. Still a good size, but needless to say I was selling and donating quite a lot before moving, including selling pretty much everything in my guest room.

That said, it's time for the grand tour!

The outside of my building - I live in a condo in Albany Park, which is one of the neighborhoods in North Chicago.

IMG_2978I live on the 3rd floor - the windows on the top right of the building are my little condo. Did I mention there's no elevator? #firstworldproblems.

So you come upstairs through the indoor / front entrance, and the front door enters into the great room / kitchen combo - this is the view if you look to the right as you come in. I did get a new area rug for this room after I moved in - picked up this and 2 small ones (bedroom, front door) from Target. The old one was pretty done in... I'm loving the little pop of color that I added! (The old one was just shades of cream.)

IMG_3211Panning around the room to the left... (can you believe the movers brought that piano up all those stairs? I did say they were awesome, I meant it!!!)


IMG_3227And then looking from the dining area back toward the front door and the kitchen. The kitchen looks small, but there's a LOT of space in the cupboards, and there are 2 huge corner cupboards with lazy susans in them. In CT, all of my kitchen stuff was stored in 4 places so it's fantastic to have everything together. I'm hoping it will lead to me getting back to cooking - that kitchen in my last place was so tiny that I really got out of the habit because it was such a pain to even try and cook.

IMG_3209And from the kitchen back across the rest of the room:

IMG_3208I love all the wood floors and the exposed brick.

Exciting stuff, right? So now lets go back to the front door and down the hallway. There's a little coat closet to the left that you can't see. Of course, there's no coat rod in said closet which is a small dilemma. I'm going to have to rig something up at some point.

IMG_3214It's my own little art gallery! I lost a lot of wall space in various rooms from CT to here, but fortunately I have a few halls that I was able to deck :D

First door on the left, this is my studio.

IMG_3229This room ended up being really tough to set up because it was smaller and also much narrower than the room in Connecticut, plus with the downsizing, I needed to add an extra set of shelves. That actually worked because I was able to go more vertical and gain a little extra space, which I needed!
IMG_3229As I set it up, I rearranged a bit so that the supplies that I'm currently using most - basic staples, art and mixed media, are the ones closest at hand.
IMG_3229I ended up having to put the tables end to end instead of back to back, but I think that will work out. Then I put the scrapbooking stuff on the other side. Easily accessible, but stuff that I'll be trying to get to much less frequently.
IMG_3229The closet has completed albums, office supplies, my project life Raskog supply cart, gift wrap, jewelry making, and some other less used craft supplies and tools. So far it's working pretty well, but it was touch and go for a while during set up... I wasn't sure I was going to get it to fit and be really usable, but I think I'm good now and I've been playing in here for a few days now and nothing seems to be inconvenient. I might start thinking about swapping out my office chair for something a little smaller, though. We'll see.

So anyway, back out to the hallway and going down further, there's a 2nd bathroom on the left (a nice addition - I only had one tiny one in CT,) and across from that is the master bedroom.


There are 4 windows in here, so I needed to get new curtains - found these super cute ones with a coupon at Urban Outfitters. Along with the shower curtain and bath mat (since I was adding a bathroom, I decided to get some cute new stuff :)

The bedroom still feels a bit unfinished to me - like there needs to be something along the tops of the walls. Crown molding or something? I don't know. If I had bought instead of renting, I'd definitely add something! Maybe I should stencil some old-school ivy borders... lol (not!)
IMG_3215Sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep, and for some reason the TV helps turn off my brain so I can drop off (otherwise I never watch TV in the bedroom.) I was told before I moved in that there were cable hookups in every room, so I brought all 3 TVs. Turns out there's only a plate and no wiring in this room. But I can watch movies if I want. It's all good. And the treadmill, of course... time to work that back into the routine! I'm doing a lot of walking every day, but a bit more wouldn't hurt!
IMG_3215And the view back out to the front. There's another hallway to the right from this point - it goes along to a tiny little laundry / utility room and the back door. I have a small part of the porch area (great for going outside to spray paint or if I want to add a BBQ) and there are stairs that go down to my parking spot off the alley.

I really scored with this place... it's quite nice, a good building, great amenities, and I'm within walking distance of the L which I take to work every day (I work downtown in the Loop.) On top of it all, my rent is a bit cheaper than in Branford! Bonus!

So that's it! The grand tour for all of you who have been asking.

And now, it's time to make some dinner and get back to playing in my studio!

Catching Up... A Weekend with Dina Wakley

Whew! I sort of dropped off for a while there... got finished with all of the packing and loaded up the truck on the 9th, then drove out to Chicago the 10th-11th to get into my new place and wait for my delivery. They had to do a shuttle on both ends so it ended up taking an extra day before my stuff was delivered to the new condo, but everything went smoothly! While I waited, I did some art journaling in my kitchen with the stuff I brought in my car. I'll be sharing that soon - I want to finish up some things. But then on the 13th my stuff was delivered - it took a while to bring it up since I'm in a 3rd floor walk-up with no elevator (argh!!!) They even brought up the piano! I had fantastic movers - United Van Lines did the move, and my crew here in Chicago was especially amazing. My stuff was handled 6 times (load / unload shuttle at each end, plus load / unload the big truck. Yikes!) And believe it or not, not a thing was broken. Mainly due to good movers, but I'm going to claim a big coup for my stellar packing skills (I may pack heavy, but I pack well!)

So anyway, they got it all up, and then whenever I was home from work I was in mad unpacking mode. I finally got my cable / internet installed last Friday (yay!) I was eating off plates again by Saturday, and mostly finished by Sunday. I had to get all of the empty boxes out of the house before I could finish, though... needed the space to put things away, get art on the walls, and get curtains up. Finally got rid of the last of those last night. And I'm done! Moved in, completely unpacked, decorated, etc... I don't waste time! So now that I finally got everything settled, it's time to get back to regular life!

To start, I want to share the weekend I got to spend taking classes with Dina Wakely at Papercraft Clubhouse the first weekend in May (I refused to move until after that weekend! No way I was missing out.) The classes were AMAZING. Dina was super fun and a great teacher - I learned more from her classes than from just about any of the others that I've taken.

First we made a little mini art journal with the pages we did in class - I loved this! And now I have a cool journal that doubles as a reference book for all of the tips and techniques Dina shared during class.

IMG_3092And here's my book from that class:


IMG_3223And here you can see front and back cover if I open it up:

IMG_3224Of course, you can't take classes from Dina without doing something with faces!

IMG_3112We played a lot in all of the classes with her awesome new paint. I think the Clubhouse was actually the first store to get it - we had lots of it handy to use all weekend. It's fabulous! (I still think I should have bought an extra of the turquoise... lol. I'll probably be emailing Tracie with an order at some point!)

IMG_3097And my pages in my art journal:


For the first one above, we used Dina's new stamps along with scrap paper and ephemera to make these cool ladies with attitude.

And on the 2nd one, we used deli paper, stamps, stencils, and paint, to make our own background paper that we turned into clothes for one of our ladies.
IMG_3127The third we traced onto our finished backgrounds using tracing paper and a photo copy image of a face. From there we just made it our own. I love how this turned out - the page seems to tell a story even without any journaling.

For the 3rd class, we did two journal pages using lots of paint and stencils along with stamps and ephemera. I absolutely love this first one - I used an image from a pamphlet I brought back from Myanmar. I had done the background and stamping first, and it really seemed to go with the colors and general vibe.

IMG_3125And the last class was creating art journal pages with inspirational advice on them. This was right up my alley!


Those last two I finished up in my kitchen in Chicago while I was waiting for my stuff to come. I was so glad to have stuff to work on and supplies to work with!

I had so much fun with these! I learned a lot that I know is really going to stick with me and will probably influence a lot of my work in the future. And it was so wonderful both to meet Dina and also to have a chance to spend that time with my friends at the Clubhouse before heading out. Of course, I'm sure I'm going to go back at some point - I made too many wonderful friends there! I'm going to miss them, so I think we'll have to get together and play in the future.

But in the meantime, I'll be getting back to finding my new normal here in Chicago, and hopefully posting more frequently now that I'm unpacked and I have internet!


Art journaling with molding paste

So I'm finally in Chicago... Chilling out in the kitchen of my new yet still empty condo. Trying to catch up on a few things and thinking of making some arty stuff with the supplies I brought with me in the car ( only like 8 boxes... Such limited supplies! Lol... Not!) in the meantime, here's an art journal page I did about a week and a half ago. I was inspired by something I saw online and wanted to see if I could figure out the technique. Not sure if I did it, but it was fun!

I created a super layered and busy background using StencilGirl stencils and Golden acrylic paints. Then I used light molding paste tinted with cobalt turquoise fluid acrylics and applied over top with a palette knife to get the leaves and stems. I think this might need to become a canvas at some point. That's one things don't have handy right now, though so it will have to wait until I get settled in :-)

Art journaling with molding paste

Art journaling with molding paste

Art journaling with molding paste

Art journaling with molding paste